The SA Schools team on Saturday finished the Under-18 International Series unbeaten as they defeated England 23-16 in a hard-fought and physical encounter at the City Park Stadium in Crawford, Cape Town.
The SA Schools team were smart on attack as they retained possession for long periods, while they put their bodies on the line on defence throughout the match. SA Schools flyhalf Curwin Bosch, meanwhile, kept the scoreboard ticking with his accurate goal kicking.
The victory for the SA Schools team allowed them to finish the Series as the only unbeaten team, while they also avenged their defeat against England in last year’s series, which marked their first defeat in four years in the Under-18 International Series.
The SA Schools A team, meanwhile, drew 20-20 against Wales following a late surge by the visitors to force their way back into the match. The SA Schools A side built up a 10-3 lead early in the match, but the strong Welsh pack allowed them to force their way back into the game to level the scores late in the second half.
In the other match France defeated Italy 25-17.
SA Schools 23 (10) England 16 (6)
England opened up the scoring with a penalty in the opening minutes, but they were soon forced to defend as the SA Schools team put together phases and worked their way close to the tryline. The home team’s determined efforts to starve England of possession and score finally paid off in the 22nd minute after hooker Johan Grobbelaar dashed through a gap in the defence before being tackled, which scrumhalf Embrose Papier capitalised on to dive in the first try. Bosch added a penalty soon after to stretch their lead to 10-3. England hit back with a penalty of their own to trail by only four points, and with neither team able to add to their score the SA Schools entered the break 10-6 ahead.
England fought back with intent after the break as they got their hands on the ball and forced their way through the defence to score their first try compliments of Max Malins to edge their way into an 11-10 lead. But this was short-lived as Papier found space out wide and passed the ball to Hacjivah Dayimani who touched down. Bosch converted the try and added two penalties to push the hosts 23-11 ahead. Both teams were reduced to 14 players in the minute following a scuffle up-front, and despite neither team having a numbers advantage England managed to force their way through the defence in the last minute to go down 23-16.
SA Schools – Tries: Embrose Papier, Hacjivah Dayimani. Conversions: Curwin Bosch (2). Penalties: Curwin Bosch (3).
England – Tries: Ali Crossdale, Max Malins. Penalties: Theo Brophy Clews (2).
SA Schools A 20 (10) Wales 20 (8)
Wales applied early pressure on the SA Schools A team as they retained possession and strung together phases, but they were forced to settle for a penalty as they battled to penetrate the defence. The hosts, however, hit back with back-to-back tries within two minutes by flanker Phillip Krause and flyhalf Bader Pretorius after fantastic breaks on attack for a 10-3 lead. Wales fought back with intent with their strong forwards and managed to force their way over the tryline to reduce the gap on the scoreboard to 10-8 before the break.
The SA Schools A team came out firing in the second half with flanker Kwanda Dimaza dodging his way around a defender and diving over the tryline to extend their lead to 17-8. They added a penalty to stretch their lead to 20-8. Wales, however, forced their way back into the match with a converted try by Josh Macleod to reduce the deficit to 20-15. They added another try nine minutes later compliments of prop Leon Brown, but an unsuccessful conversion left the scores level at 20-20. Both teams defended like demons in the dying minutes, which forced them to settle for a draw.
SA Schools A – Tries: Bader Pretorius, Kwanda Dimaza, Phillip Krause. Conversion: Cornel Smit. Penalties: Cornel Smit.
Wales – Tries: Josh Macleod, Leon Brown, Morgan Sieniawski. Conversion: Billy McBryde. Penalty: Callum Hall.